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Water Wheel Inn - Gunnison, Colorado
From the Owner, Jim Valenzuela MD
Gunnison Nordic
Fun and Fish at Blue Mesa Reservoir
Lodging Specials
Upcoming Events
From the Owner...
Our Gunnison-Crested Butte valley has much to offer: recreation, natural beauty, art, history and great food, all packaged by the seasons.

Today we bring you some winter fun by one of our favorite locals, Ms. Joellen Fonken. We are also joined by a tremendous friend and guest from the 'front range,' the Denver area, Mr. John Starke.

Jim Valenzuela
Water Wheel Inn Owner
Joellen is a local icon. A beautiful wife and Gunnison business owner, she is also a tireless community volunteer, serving on, for example, the Gunnison-Crested Butte tourism association and trails groups. Ideas about nearby Nordic skiing is her gift today. She makes us all smile.

John Starke's laughter fills a room and frequently our lobby at the Water Wheel. He transcends mere incredible success as a father and businessman. He is also a great outdoorsman, hunting and fishing year round. His twinkling eyes, worldly wisdom, and joie de vivre make every meeting a distinct pleasure. He leaves you better...and, laughing. He shares his thoughts, today, on the joys of ice fishing...brrrr.

Please enjoy our guests' articles and give us feedback on your interests and needs.

Stay tuned...

Jim Valenzuela

Gunnison Nordic
Gunnison Nordic is a 100% volunteer based club that sets cross country ski trails in and around the City of Gunnison. Generally we set 45 Kilometers of trails for skate and classic skiers, touring skiers and snowshoers. We work with the City, Bureau of Land Management and United States Forest Service to offer a variety of terrain for skiers ages 3 to 103. Nordic skiing can be a life time sport! This year, due to our limited snow pack in the Tomichi Creek Valley, we have had to go to Mill Creek (20 minutes from the center of Gunnison) for ski trail setting. Jorgensen Park and the WSC Practice field have 2 kilometers of a groomed course for availability in town.

The club just put on our annual Kenny Mac Ski Fest which is open to all skiers and snowshoers. Races and tours were offered. It was our biggest year yet, and is an annual event scheduled for the last weekend of January. Gunnison Nordic offers social events during the year. Our wine tasting evening is scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 23rd at the Brick Cellar 6 -9 p.m. Our full moon ski and bonfire is set for February 27th. This years evening will be at WSC with free refreshments for all. Check our website for complete details.

In the non-winter months we offer to cyclists the Out and Back Series, a 6-pack of local road bike tours with Gunnison being the hub. These are self guided, with information of each tour posted on our website and at local bike shops. A bronze, silver and golden wheel are awarded each fall for the individuals who complete their 6-pack first at each skill level.

All our trails are free to the public to use. We do have a strong group of businesses and locals that support us along with Challenge grants from the City of Gunnison and Gunnison County. Think snow!

Joellen Fonken

Fun and Fish at Blue Mesa Reservoir
Blue Mesa Reservoir is one of the best bodies of water in Colorado for a variety of fish and some of the best Lake Trout fishing to be found throughout the Rocky Mountains.

Just did a little ice fishing at Blue Mesa Reservoir and was well rewarded for braving the cold. Two friends and I started out about 7:45 AM last week and finished about 1/4 mile west of the 2nd bridge. We caught 18 perch at about 30 to 35 feet and then got into some Rainbows at about 55 to 60 feet depth. Just before noon we had hooked and released over 13 trout.

After lunch we moved to a spot east of the bridge and about 25 feet from the south shore just off a point. We were jigging at about 80 to 90 feet and got into some big Lake Trout. Whoa! Talk about exciting fun. We landed seven Lakers between the three of us. They weighed in between 6 1/2 pounds to 19 3/4 pounds at the upper end.

We drilled a total of (16) 9 inch holes in order to locate the fish. We typically will drill a series of three to five holes spaced out about 10 feet apart and jig for about fifteen minutes in each hole to see if we get any action. If not, we move to the next hole and repeat the jigging process, and so on until we hit a good location and depth. We use a Vexlar to test depth and see if there are any fish at various depths. Bottom line, we usually catch fish.

We use red/white and pink/white 1/4 oz. Northland Tackle jigs and usually use mealie worms hooked perpendicular to the jig for Rainbow and Brown trout. We usually use Size 12 Gill Getter jigs from Northland for Perch. When we go for large Lakers we go to a lead head 1/2 oz. to 1 oz. with a white tube jig cut to about 1 1/2 inch length with a large night crawler or small shrimp tail, the big boys love it!

As you might have guessed, we always catch and release when fishing for ourselves, as we believe in, and practice, sensible conservation techniques and have a great respect for nature and its bountiful gifts. So when outdoors please respect wildlife and property and preserve it for your children and grandchildren and all future generations. They'll be glad you did!

When in Gunnison we always stay at the Water Wheel as we prefer its convenient location, large rooms and great staff. Doctor Jim Valenzuela runs a great operation and we always enjoy our stay. Their breakfast is a great start to the day and the friendly staff always makes you feel welcome.

John Starke
Fur, Fin and Feathers Outdoor Adventures

Lodging Specials

Spring Break Deals
Ski and stay for only $78.50 per person. More information...

Get on the Water Wheel Inn Express!
Stay 2 nights, get 3rd night FREE! More information...

Ski Monarch
Ski and stay, all for only $77.00 per person. More information...

View All Winter Specials

Upcoming Events

Winter Carnival
February 23

Tuesday Wine Tasting
February 23

Firemen's Concert: Host Night Gala Concert
February 25

Survivor Celebration
February 25

Sargents Annual Snowmobile Rodeo
February 27

7 Hours of the Banana

February 27

USASA Southwest Series Superpipe
February 27

USASA Southwest Series Giant Slalom and Slalom
February 28

Moonlight Dinner at the Yurt
February 28, March 30

Dr. Vandenbusche Black Canyon of the Gunnison
March 4

Learn to Skate Ski for Free
March 4

33rd Annual Red Lady Salvation Ball
March 6

Aspen Sante Fe Ballet
March 9 & 10

Banff Film Festival
March 12 & 13

14th Annual Extreme Telemark Freeskiing Championships
March 18

Annual Fur Ball
March 20

Al Johnson Uphill/Downhill Ski Race
March 21

Guest and Faculty Concert: Ensemble Vivente
March 25

More Event Information

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The Water Wheel Inn
37478 W. Hwy 50 - Gunnison, CO 81230
Toll-Free 1-800-642-1650 - Local (970) 641-1650

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